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Hazardous Granada Weather - Know The Best Time To Travel


Granada weather is nice and cool in the winter months but is normally hot in the summer. Since the city of Granada is very hilly, parts of the city will vary greatly in temperature.


Map of Granada

Rainfall

It has plenty of sunshine all-year-round, and is quite dry with around 500 mm rain per year. However, since the Granada weather rainfall patterns are so unpredictable, I wouldn't advise putting too much trust in this statistic.

Most of Granada's rainfall occurs during the autumn and winter months in short bursts. During these months, the sun still is the dominant feature. In contrast, summer receives little if any rain. Only very rarely does Granada have a wet summer.




General weather conditions

View across Granada city from Alhambra

Since Granada is situated about 660 metres above-sea-level, it is subject to quite large seasonal fluctuations in temperature. So in the winter months, frosts are common and the area receives at least one good snowfall during this time.

In comparison, during the summer, the temperatures are quite hot and can reach 40°C (104°F) at times when strong winds blow off the Sahara desert (there's more on this topic under the title 'Dust storms").

If you want to check out the snow in this part of Spain then you should travel up to Sierra Nevada. This is the closest ski resort to Granada being only about 30 minutes drive south east of Granada. Sierra Nevada is snow-capped throughout the winter months and is also the location of Spain's highest mountain.

You'll be able to see the snow from Granada since this mountain is huge. This mountain is known as Mulhacén and is situated at 3,479 metres (11,414 ft) above-sea-level.

Alhambra (in the photo below) is located on a steep hill on the south eastern outskirts of Granada. You can see the snow covered Mulhacén in the background.




Best time to visit Granada

Alhambra (previously used by Moorish Monarch as a palace and fortress

The best time to visit Granada is during mid-autumn and spring since the Granada weather won't be too hot or cold. But if you want to avoid the crowds, then you should travel here in January and February.

Yes...it's going to feel quite cool in these months but nothing you can't handle. Just bring some warm clothes to rug up with at night. If you want to, you could ski and swim all in one day at this time of year.

Okay, now I've told you all the nicer aspects of Granada weather, it's time to reveal it's darker side that most tourism operators don't want you to know about.




Natural and Man-Made Air Pollution Hazards That Affects Granada Weather

Even though Granada is a non-industrialized city it still gets it fair share of air pollution (car fumes and dust).

Dust haze over beautiful Granada

In summer (July and August), you'll notice that the Granada weather is a little dusty because the soil is extremely dry. So any wind simply sweeps the dust off the ground into the air. Also because Granada is surrounded by mountains, the air particles residing over Granada accumulate in the narrow streets when there is some wind.

The dust and car fumes can become quite thick during periods of drought, especially when the region suffers from heat wave conditions. Normally, during heat waves, the wind becomes quite strong and so dust goes everywhere.

So you need to carefully plan your trip so it doesn't coincide with these air pollution events. There have been many people who have left Granada in disgust since they arrived when the smell of all the air pollutants were at their peak.

Since Granada is located in a valley, just beware that in the winter months, there's the possibility of smog in the mornings due to the presence of a strong temperature inversion.

So what's a temperature inversion you may ask? A temperature inversion is the location where warmer air resides above a layer of cold air. So obviously, the temperature increases with height and any pollutants that form near ground-level become trapped beneath this layer of warm air. (Normally temperature decreases with height, so that explains why it's called an inversion.)

However, in most instances, you'll probably see more fog than smog in the winter. The opposite is true in the summer.

A particularly bad year for air pollution occurred in early August 2003 when record-breaking temperatures (>40°C) affected south eastern Spain. It occurred during a unusually prolonged drought and lead to a massive outbreaks of bush fires (more than 35,000 ha were burnt).

The smoke from these fires combined with air pollutants from other parts of Europe made life in Granada very difficult. To make matters worse, south eastern Spain was constantly bombarded by dust storms coming in from North Africa. This further impacted the Granada weather by prolonging the heat wave and drought conditions.




Dust Storms Affecting Granada Weather

As just previously mentioned in the air pollution example above, dust storms may cause problems during your holiday.

These dust storms occur quite frequently during the summer and are blown in from the Sahara desert. When this occurs, hot gusty winds precede the arrival of the dust. It's during these times that the temperatures frequently rises above 40°C in Granada.

Whatever you do, please ensure that you bring along extra clothing that will help you to protect your eyes during a dust storm. If you forget, the dust will cause you a lot of discomfort and irritation. These dust storms also aggravate the symptoms associated with asthma and other respiratory problems. If you suffer from severe asthma then don't forget to take your medication with you.

Additionally, dust storms reduce the visibility considerably and so that any attempts to take photos of the beautiful scenery is prevented (but only for a short time). While these dust storms are a nuisance at times, it shouldn't force to you change your itinerary. These dust storms normally only last from 1-4 days so they are quite bearable.




Heat Waves

It's true that Granada can get extremely hot in the summer. This normally occur on a small number of days when the wind is blowing directly off the North African deserts. The temperatures during this time exceeds 40°C (104°F).

When this occurs, the air feels like an oven since any moisture left in the air has now disappeared. If you arrive during this time you need to be aware of the impending dust if it hasn't already arrived.

These heat waves are very common in the summer and early autumn, and can last up to a week. The heat wave breaks with the arrival of a cooler air mass from the north west. When this occurs, Granada weather becomes bearable again, well at least for a short period of time.

It's during this time you'll find that you won't want to do anything outside as it's simply too hot. If you're thinking of going to the beach, then you might still be surprised to learn that the temperatures (though a little cooler) will still be quite uncomfortable. But remember, if you do go, the dust will be a little thicker on the beach.




Granada weather influences pollen levels

View of flowering trees near the Santo Domingo Church in Granada

If you suffer from pollen allergies, then this will be of interest to you. Granada tends to have highest level of pollen in the air out of any Spanish city.

The dominant species of pollen in the Granada area is Cupressaceae (Cyprus) pollen and is the main type that causes respiratory allergies in the general population.

Granada's pollen season occurs from September through to June/July. If you hope to avoid the pollen, then the worst time to travel to Granada is in the middle of winter from January - March since the pollen intensity is at its peak. However, the pollen levels aren't extremely high year-after-year so don't panic if you're committed to travelling during these months.

If you still want to travel to Granada in mid-winter, you'll be happy to know that atmospheric pollen counts are highest from 11am - 1pm. These times coincide with the maximum temperature and lowest humidity levels. So if you're planning to spend a great deal of time outdoors then you should plan your activities outside these hours.

So how do you know if the year you're planning to travel to Granada will have high amounts of pollen in the air. A very good guide is to find out whether Granada has had plenty of rain a month or so before the flowering season. If it has, then you can be sure that there will be high levels of pollen.




Severe storms

Overcast conditions in Granada ahead of some rain

Granada weather, like most southern and central parts of Spain, is subject to the occasional severe thunderstorm. These mainly occur during the summer and autumn. Most of this thunderstorm activity is not severe but comes in quick, heavy downpours. Since the back streets in Granada are narrow, you might find the occasional car being carried along by the raging torrent. These floods disappear as quickly as they arrive.

The region around Granada is subject to hailstorms but less likely to be hit by tornadoes. A vast majority of these storms are accompanied by strong winds but again these winds weaken once the storm has passed.

If you're are worried about where the severe weather occurs in other parts of Spain, then click here.


Return from Granada weather to the Weather in Spain page.







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